Skip to main content Accessibility help

Are there dead persons?

  • Patrick Stokes (a1)


Schechtman’s ‘Person Life View’ (PLV) offers an account of personal identity whereby persons are the unified loci of our practical and ethical judgment. PLV also recognises infants and permanent vegetative state patients as being persons. I argue that the way PLV handles these cases yields an unexpected result: the dead also remain persons, contrary to the widely-accepted ‘Termination Thesis.’ Even more surprisingly, this actually counts in PLV’s favor: in light of our social and ethical practices which treat the dead as moral patients, PLV gives a more plausible account of the status of the dead than its rival theories.


Corresponding author


Hide All
Árnadóttir, Steinvör Thöll. 2013. “Bodily Thought and the Corpse Problem.” European Journal of Philosophy 21 (4 ): 575592. doi:10.1111/j.1468-0378.2011.00463.x.
Blustein, Jeffrey. 2008. The Moral Demands of Memory. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. 10.1017/CBO9780511818615
Bradley, F. H. 1899. Appearance and Reality: A Metaphysical Essay. New York: Swan Sonnenschein & Co. 10.1037/12950-000
Brubaker, Jed R., Hayes, Gillian R., and Dourish, Paul. 2013. “Beyond the Grave: Facebook as a Site for the Expansion of Death and Mourning.” The Information Society 29 (3 ): 152163. 10.1080/01972243.2013.777300
Campbell, Tim, and McMahan, Jeff. 2016. “Animalism and the Varieties of Conjoined Twinning.” In Animalism: New Essays on Persons, Animals, and Identity, edited by Blatti, Stephan and Snowdon, Paul F., 229252. Oxford: Oxford University Press. 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199608751.001.0001
Carter, W. R. 1999. “Will I Be a Dead Person?Philosophy and Phenomenological Research 59 (1 ): 167171. 10.2307/2653464
Feldman, Fred. 1992. Confrontations with the Reaper: A Philosophical Study of the Nature and Value of Death. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
Feldman, Fred. 2000. “The Termination Thesis.” Midwest Studies in Philosophy 24 (1 ): 98115. 10.1111/misp.2000.24.issue-1
Floridi, Luciano. 2013. The Ethics of Information. Oxford: Oxford University Press. 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199641321.001.0001
Gilmore, Cody. 2007. “Defining “Dead” in Terms of “Lives” and “Dies”.” Philosophia 35 (2 ): 219231. 10.1007/s11406-007-9062-z
Gilmore, Cody. 2012. “When Do Things Die? ” In The Oxford Handbook of Philosophy of Death, edited by Bradley, Ben, Feldman, Fred and Johansson, Jens, 559. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
van Inwagen, Peter. 1990. Material Beings. Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press.
Johansson, Jens. 2012. “The Timing Problem.” In The Oxford Handbook of Philosophy of Death, edited by Bradley, Fred Feldman Jens Johansson Ben, 255273. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
Jones, Karen. 2008. “How to Change the past.” In Practical Identity and Narrative Agency, edited by Atkins, Kim and Mackenzie, Catriona, 269287. London: Routledge.
Kasket, Elaine. 2012. “Being-towards-Death in the Digital Age.” Existential Analysis 23 (2 ): 249261.
Kern, Rebecca, Forman, Abbe E., and Gil-Egui, Gisela. 2013. “R.I.P.: Remain in Perpetuity. Facebook Memorial Pages.” Telematics and Informatics 30 (1 ): 210. 10.1016/j.tele.2012.03.002
Locke, John. 1975. An Essay concerning Human Understanding. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
Mackie, David. 1999. “Personal Identity and Dead People.” Philosophical Studies 95 (3 ): 219242. doi:10.1023/A:1004239225105.
Martin, Raymond, and Barresi, John. 2000. Naturalization of the Soul: Self and Personal Identity in the Eighteenth Century. 110 vols. London: Routledge. 10.4324/9780203252178
Nagel, Thomas. 1970. “Death.” Nous 4 (1 ): 7380. doi:10.2307/2214297.
Olson, Eric T. 2004. “Animalism and the Corpse Problem.” Australasian Journal of Philosophy 82 (2 ): 265274. doi:10.1080/713659837.
Olson, Eric T. 2012. “The Person and the Corpse.” In The Oxford Handbook of the Philosophy of Death, edited by Bradley, Ben, Feldman, Fred, and Johansson, Jens, 8095. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
Pitcher, George. 1984. “The Misfortunes of the Dead.” American Philosophical Quarterly 21 (2 ): 183188.
Purves, Duncan. 2017. “Desire Satisfaction, Death, and Time.” Canadian Journal of Philosophy 47 (6 ): 799819. doi:10.1080/00455091.2017.1321910.
Rosenbaum, Stephen E. 1986. “How to Be Dead and Not Care: A Defense of Epicurus.” American Philosophical Quarterly 23 (2 ): 217225.
Schechtman, Marya. 1996. The Constitution of Selves. Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press.
Schechtman, Marya. 2014. Staying Alive: Personal Identity, Practical Concerns, and the Unity of a Life. Oxford: Oxford University Press. 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199684878.001.0001
Schechtman, Marya. 2015. “The Moments of a Life: On Some Similarities between Life and Literature.” In Narrative, Identity, and the Kierkegaardian Self, edited by Lippitt, John and Stokes, Patrick, 1128. Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press. 10.3366/edinburgh/9780748694433.001.0001
Scheffler, Samuel. 2013. Death and the Afterlife. Oxford: Oxford University Press. 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199982509.001.0001
Shoemaker, Sydney. 2016. “Thinking Animals without Animalism.” In Animalism:: New Essays on Persons, Animals, and Identity, edited by Blatti, Stephan and Snowdon, Paul F., 128142. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
Sider, Theodore. 2012. “The Evil of Death: What Can Metaphysics Contribute? ” In The Oxford Handbook of the Philosophy of Death, edited by Bradley, Ben, Feldman, Fred, and Johansson, Jens, 155167. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
Silverstein, Harry S. 1993. “The Evil of Death.” In The Metaphysics of Death, edited by Fischer, John Martin, 95118. Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press.
Snowdon, Paul F. 2016. “Animalism and the Unity of Consciousness: Some Issues.” In Animalism: New Essays on Persons, Animals, and Identity, edited by Blatti, Stephan and Snowdon, Paul F., 266282. Oxford: Oxford University Press. 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199608751.001.0001
Stokes, Patrick 2011. “Duties to the Dead?: Earnest Imagination and Remembrance.” In Kierkegaard and Death, edited by Stokes, Patrick and Buben, Adam, 253273. Bloomington, IN: Indiana University Press.
Stokes, Patrick. 2012. “Is Narrative Identity Four-Dimensionalist?European Journal of Philosophy 20: E86E106. 10.1111/ejop.2012.20.issue-s1
Stokes, Patrick. 2014. “Crossing the Bridge: The First-Person and Time.” Phenomenology and the Cognitive Sciences 13 (2 ): 295312. 10.1007/s11097-013-9302-6
Stokes, Patrick. 2015a. “Deletion as Second Death: The Moral Status of Digital Remains.” Ethics and Information Technology 17 (4 ): 237248. 10.1007/s10676-015-9379-4
Stokes, Patrick. 2015b. The Naked Self: Kierkegaard and Personal Identity. Oxford: Oxford University Press. 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780198732730.001.0001
Stokes, Patrick. 2017. “Temporal Asymmetry and the Self/Person Split.” Journal of Value Inquiry 51 (2 ): 203219. 10.1007/s10790-016-9563-8
Thomson, Judith Jarvis. 1997. “People and Their Bodies.” In Reading Parfit, edited by Dancy, Jonathan, 202229. Oxford and Malden MA: Blackwell.


Are there dead persons?

  • Patrick Stokes (a1)


Altmetric attention score

Full text views

Total number of HTML views: 0
Total number of PDF views: 0 *
Loading metrics...

Abstract views

Total abstract views: 0 *
Loading metrics...

* Views captured on Cambridge Core between <date>. This data will be updated every 24 hours.

Usage data cannot currently be displayed